Widener University is offering a no-cost online course for its students and the public this summer. “Decoding Pandemics: How COVID-19 is Shaping Science and Societies” examines the virus and its impact.

Hosted through Lifelong Learning at Widener, the course is broken into eight modules. Students may choose to study some or all of the modules and progress is self-paced. Each module represents a different subject area developed and led by faculty from around the university.

Topics include:

  • A health care overview of COVID-19, with Assistant Professors Kelly Delaney and Karen May of the School of Nursing.
  • Epidemics and historical contexts, with Assistant Professor of History Jordan Smith from the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Maintaining well-being in times of uncertainty, with Associate Professor Brenda Kucirka of the School of Nursing, Dean Robin Dole of the College of Health & Human Services, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Michelle Gorenberg.
  • How governments have responded to COVID-19, with Professor Wesley Leckrone and Assistant Professor Jeremy Backstrom, who both teach political science in the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Mathematical models: Predicting the spread of COVID-19, with mechanical engineering Professor Mark Nicosia of the School of Engineering.
  • Legal and economic implications of the pandemic, with taxation and financial planning Professor Kenn Tacchino, the Boettner Endowed Professor, and Assistant Professor Afrouz Azadikhad Jahromi, a specialist in economics. Both professors teach in the School of Business Administration.
  • The role of biomedical engineers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Associate Professor Anita Singh, who teaches biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering.

Students may access the video, reading and other materials available through the course at days and times that are convenient for them. Nothing is presented live, and the curriculum offers multiple activities and opportunities for reflection on the content.

“COVID-19 has impacted the entire world and there is a great deal of public interest in it,” said Dean Anne Krouse of the School of Nursing, who spearheaded creation of the course. “This class represents an opportunity for people to learn about COVID-19 from a variety of perspectives and disciplines while they get to know some of Widener’s exceptional faculty members. For people who haven’t studied online before, it also provides a taste of the rich academic experience Widener provides in an online setting.”

Incoming and returning Widener students may elect to pursue the course for one academic credit. They will be required to complete all eight modules within 60 days of starting the class. Individuals who are not Widener students may opt to forgo the credit and enroll simply for the joy of learning. They may choose to complete all eight modules or just a sampling of them, and will receive a certificate when they finish. The class will be open through the end of 2020.

The course is available now through lifelonglearning.widener.edu and registration is available in on ongoing basis through the university website.

Krouse credited the university Provost’s Council and staff in the Teaching and Learning Technologies department for collaborating on the course creation, as well as President Julie E. Wollman for her enthusiastic support.

“Widener’s commitment to student success is central to everything we do, and this course was designed to provide an outstanding learning experience. We hope our full- and part-time students enjoy it, and we warmly welcome virtual learners from around the globe who join our Widener family online,” Krouse said.